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Panthers Draft Insider

Director of Scouting Scott Luce takes us behind the scenes as the Cats prepare for the 2014 Draft.

Thursday, 06.5.2014 / 11:53 AM ET / News
By FloridaPanthers.com Staff
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Panthers Draft Insider

With the 2014 NHL Draft in Philadelphia under a month away (June 27-28), and the Cats holding the first overall pick, FloridaPanthers.com caught up with longtime Panthers Director of Scouting, Scott Luce, to find out how the team is preparing for the big weekend.

What’s it like preparing for the draft as we get closer and closer?

The lead-up to the draft is a real rush. Talking trade scenarios and draft strategy makes for an exciting month. Sorting through the game reports and various character checks provides us with the required clarity we strive for. It is the most exciting time of the scouting season.

On a typical day right now, what is the scouting group focused on?

Right now, after reviewing the data acquired at last weekend’s Draft Combine, we will speak daily on specific draft-related items that pertain to our internal draft list. There will be trade scenarios discussed, and we will go through our list and project the many different scenarios that may play out.

Speaking of the Combine, which you attended last week in Toronto, what are you looking to learn when seeing some of the top prospects up close as they run the gauntlet of fitness tests and interviews?

We are looking to establish or further our due diligence process with each prospect of interest.

We try to get an improved idea of them as people away from the rink as well as where they are at with their physical training.

Sometimes it is interesting to see if a player’s on-ice personality matches their off-ice personality. We try to determine if they are a fit with the direction we are taking the organization.

As far as the physical testing, what kind of conclusions do you draw from the results?

The physical testing shows us a prospect’s starting point as it pertains to their level of fitness. Some prospects have played at a level where physical training is not as important. All this means is that they are starting a little behind, but that does not mean they will not get their fitness level to where it needs to be in the future.

At this point, you are already familiar with many of the players. How much stock do you put in Combine performance when you are making your evaluations?

The Combine provides our scouts an opportunity to speak in person with some of the prospects they may have scouted during the season. Their performance at the Combine is important, but it is only a small portion of a bigger body of work that goes into drafting a player.

Do you often see players making big jumps/falls as a result of their Combine performances or at this point is it more of a fine tuning of your rankings?

You rarely see a player drop or rise significantly from their performance at the Combine. Every year there seems to be a few situations that arise that catch you off guard. Usually it relates to an injury or an awkward interview \ physical testing. If a red flag pops up with a prospect, our staff has three weeks to look into and see if our list should be adjusted accordingly up or down.

Finally, to tie it all up, let’s play a little rapid fire. Tell us the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the names of the following guys, each of whom is widely considered a top prospect:

Sam Bennett - Offensive center that played the wing in minor hockey. Very good offensive instincts and vision. Plays with edge and passion. Very competitive. Wants to be a difference maker.

Aaron Ekblad - Outstanding two way defender that plays a very team oriented game. Leads by example. Great size and range. The best defender in the draft.

Sam Reinhart - Very cerebral pivot with great vision. Sees the ice extremely well. Has versatility in his game.

Leon Draisaitl - Big and strong, with a power element in his game.

Michael Dal Colle - Goal scoring winger with a great release.

Kasperi Kapenen - Speed forward with finesse. Dangerous on the rush.

William Nylander - Dynamic offensive prospect. Sees the ice well and can shoot or pass equally well.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

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